Child Nutrition

Child Nutrition
Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, MA, MSLIS
Information Specialist

Posted January 26, 2016

Introduction

Sometimes, you may think of Nutrition Science as a field that only scientists are qualified to study. Instead, Nutrition Science includes behaviors and social factors related to your own food choices.

The foods you eat provide energy (calories) and nutrients, such as carbohydrate, fat, minerals, protein, vitamins, and water. Eating foods in the right amounts gives your body energy to perform daily activities, helps you to maintain a healthy body weight, and can lower your risk for certain diseases, such as diabetes, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Child nutrition is especially important, because a healthy diet helps children to grow, to learn, and to prevent obesity as they grow into adulthood.

Choose the Right Foods in the Right Amounts for Your Children

In 1992, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which is the agency in charge of nutrition, introduced the Food Guide Pyramid to American consumers. The Food Guide Pyramid had six vertical stripes to represent five food groups plus oils.

In 2011, a colorful plate, called, MyPlate, replaced the Food Guide Pyramid as the symbol for healthy eating. MyPlate has four sections (fruit, grains, protein, and vegetables), plus a side order of dairy. MyPlate looks like a place setting, is easy to use, and is available in 20 languages.

MyPlate is based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, published every five years for public health professionals. Each edition of the Dietary Guidelines reflects current knowledge of nutrition science. The 2015 to 2020 Dietary Guidelines is available exclusively on Health dot Gov.

Teach Your Children the Ingredients of a Nutritious Diet

According to the Dietary Guidelines and MyPlate, here is what you need to do to give your children a nutritious diet:

  • Make half of what is on your child’s plate fruits and vegetables.
  • For protein, choose lean beef, chicken or turkey, fish, eggs, nuts and food seeds, beans, peas, lentils, or tofu.
  • For grains, select whole-grain products, such as whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, whole-wheat cereals, and brown rice, because they are high in food fiber.
  • Instead of frying foods, grill or steam them.
  • Limit junk food, which is food with high energy density and low nutrient density.
  • Offer water, milk, or fruit juice, instead of fruit drinks or sodas.

Be a Healthy Role Model for Your Children

Show your children that you love them. Consider following these U.S. Department of Agriculture tips:

  • Reward with attention, not food. Comfort with hugs and talks. Choose not to offer sweets as rewards, so that your child does not think that dessert foods are better than other foods.
  • Show by example. Let your children see that you like to munch on raw vegetables, such as baby carrots, celery, and cauliflower.
  • Go food shopping together, and let your children make healthy food choices.
  • Focus on each other at the table. Talk about fun and happy things at mealtime. Turn off the TV and computer games.
  • Listen to your child. If your child says that she or he is hungry between meals, offer a healthy snack.

For more information, go to ChooseMyPlate dot Gov.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor or other health care provider.

Selected Information Resources

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Breakfast: the Key to Learning.
Summary Note: Lists seven suggestions for how to encourage children to eat breakfast. Based on study results showing that children who eat breakfast concentrate better in the classroom and perform better on math, reading and standardized tests.
(Accessed 18 January 2016)

Mayo Clinic Staff. Healthy Lifestyle. Children’s Health.
Summary Note: Nutrition basics for children at various ages. Based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015 to 2020.
(Accessed 18 January 2016)

Nemours Foundation. KidsHealth. Feeding Your Child Athlete.
Summary Note: Nutritional needs, diet, importance of drinking water, meal and snack suggestions for child athletes. Includes link to audio version of text.
(Accessed 18 January 2016)

Nemours Foundation. KidsHealth. Food Guide Pyramid Becomes a Plate. Summary Note: Explains the U.S. Department of Agriculture change from the Food Guide Pyramid symbol, to the MyPlate symbol, as the model for healthy eating in the United States. Discusses importance of the five food groups: dairy, fruit, grains, protein, and vegetables.
(Accessed 21 January 2016)

Nemours Foundation. KidsHealth. MyPlate Food Guide.
Summary Note: For audience of teens, describes how the U.S. Department of Agriculture symbol, MyPlate, works. Shows color graphic of MyPlate food divisions. Links to audio version of text. Also in Spanish.
(Accessed 21 January 2016)

Nemours Foundation. KidsHealth. Why Drinking Water is the Way to Go. Summary Note: For audience of kids, discusses why water is important to health. Links to audio version of text. Also in Spanish.
(Accessed 21 January 2016)

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Choose MyPlate dot Gov.
Summary Note: MyPlate in 20 languages.
(Accessed 24 January 2016)

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Choose My Plate dot Gov. Ten Tips Nutrition Education Series. Be a Healthy Role Model for Children
Summary Note: Ten tips to help children develop healthy eating habits for life. Encourages parent and child talk, family food shopping, and physical activities.
(Accessed 18 January 2016)

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. MyPlate/MiPlato
Summary Note: Defines MyPlate as part of a larger communication effort based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
(Accessed 12 January 2016).

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Food Guide Pyramid.
Summary Note: Historical references to the Food Guide Pyramid.
(Accessed 12 January 2016)

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Food and Nutrition Programs. School Meals
Summary Note: Links to child nutrition programs and resources.
(Accessed 21 January 2016).

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Food and Nutrition Service. School Meal Contacts
Summary Note: Search websites by state for address and phone number of School Meal Contacts.
(Accessed 21 January 2016)

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Food and Nutrition Service. Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
Summary Note: Frequently Asked Questions about WIC. Includes section with address and phone number of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service Public Information Staff.
(Accessed 21 January 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). School Nutrition Success Stories
Summary Note: Examples of schools and school districts in various states that have implemented successful school nutrition approaches to improve the nutritional quality of foods sold outside of Federal meal programs.
(Accessed 25 January 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Nutrition and the Health of Young People
Summary Note: Four-page document with list of brief factual statements on nutrition and the health of young people. Subsections include benefits of healthy eating and consequences of a poor diet. Resources section includes school nutrition standards. Statements are supported by footnotes to peer-reviewed literature.
(Accessed 22 January 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Division of Adolescent and School Health.
Implementing Strong Nutrition Standards for Schools: Financial Implications Summary Note: Report provides evidence that schools can have strong nutrition standards while maintaining financial stability.
(Accessed 25 January 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). National Institutes of Health (NIH). Better Nutrition Every Day. How to Make Healthier Food Choices. NIH News in Health September 2015.
Summary Note: Describes how parents can be good role models for their children, from the day their child is born. Gives examples of how often to eat certain foods.
(Accessed 18 January 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). National Institutes of Health (NIH). National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). Time to Talk: Five Things to Know about Dietary Supplements and Children
Summary Note: Lists five things to know when considering dietary supplements for children. Cautions that “natural” does not necessarily mean “safe.”
(Accessed 18 January 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). National Institutes of Health (NIH). National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus Child Nutrition
Summary Note: Entry to extensive list of online information resources organized under sections, such as, Start Here, Latest News, Specific Conditions, Children, and Teenagers. Links to other languages.
(Accessed 18 January 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). National Institutes of Health (NIH). National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. Definitions of Health Terms: Nutrition
Summary Note: Definitions are in plain language.
(Accessed 11 January 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Office on Women’s Health. GirlsHealth dot Gov. Nutrition.
Summary Note: Girls can “read what girls like you say about eating healthy.” Links to healthy weight goals, eating healthy at restaurants, and what to do if you are a vegetarian. Sidebar with links to Girls Health Glossary, with definitions of nutrition terms.
(Accessed 18 January 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Eighth Edition. December 2015.
Summary Note: Official website and entry to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015 to 2020. Discusses the purpose, process, and evolution of the Dietary Guidelines. Includes contact information.
(Accessed 23 January 2016)